Don’t be afraid to fail on social

Those who know me well know that I have a few quotes that I live by. One of the quotes I believe in the most is, “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.”

The great Michael Jordan uttered those words. As a New York Knicks fan, the quote makes my stomach turn because WHEN DID THIS GUY EVER FAIL AGAINST US? I MEAN, COME ON. HE WAS 5–0 AGAINST US IN THE PLAYOFFS. BRANDED THE DOUBLE-NICKEL ON US. I JUST CAN’T.

But I digress.

The point is, Jordan never shied away from taking the last shot of a game. He relished the opportunity. He understood that he might not make the shot, but the thought of passing up the opportunity never crossed his mind.

I often think of this quote when I talk to fellow public relations professionals and listen to their tales of social media failure and why they shy away from certain types of posts or networks, in general.

Failure in social — just like failure in life — is inevitable. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You might do your research and find out what type of post is going to work the best and when the optimal time to post is, and still strike out.

And that’s OK.

Recently, I posted a series of student-videos all talking about what a career in technical education meant. Using video over a written piece just made more sense. Like you’ve probably experienced, I’ve had some pretty decent success with video posts on Facebook. The video brought the audience closer to the student, and each student had an emotional response to their education training. I thought for sure the videos would be an overwhelming success on Facebook, but they all died on the table. Bummer.

If you’re taking a risk, you have to understand that failure is a possible outcome.

What’s important though is quantifying your failure.

It’s not as if my audience watched those videos and were turned off to a student’s future in a technical trade. It’s possible my content was fighting for attention with other content on my audience’s feed. The point is, this failure isn’t enough to stop me from creating similar content or changing my approach in the future. I ended up creating Instagram posts containing an engaging quote and tight shot of the student. The content is performing much better on that platform, partially because the audience is largely made up of our students who love to see themselves or their friends being featured. Each failure is a learning opportunity.

Michael Jordan was famously cut from his high school basketball team. I’d say he responded to that failure pretty well. He knew how good he was and could be. He just had to work.

So, work at your failures. Why isn’t your Instagram account performing as well as you’d like? Why didn’t your latest marketing effort work? Failure is necessary, and if you’re taking risks, it’s going to happen. Often.

Just don’t be afraid of it.

It could be the ticket to your success.

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